(WNS)–In the 158 years since Charles Darwin developed the idea that all living organisms evolved from one common ancestor, scientists have attempted to prop up the so-called “tree of life” theory against the prevailing winds of reason. Since 1859, little empirical evidence has supported the concept, but a team of researchers from Rutgers University thinks reshaping the tree could help prove its existence.
The researchers say the tree doesn’t give the full picture of evolution because it depicts various families of organisms as independent branches. A better picture would show how forms of life such as microbes and their hosts are linked physically and evolve together. “The goal is to transform a two-dimensional tree into one that is multidimensional and includes biological interactions among species,” researcher Debashish Bhattacharya said in a statement.
Even though the researchers want to reshape Darwin’s tree, they were quick to defend their champion. “What we wish to clearly stress is that we are not engaged in Darwin-bashing. We consider Darwin a hero of science,” Bhattacharya said.
But failure to give microbes their due credit is not the only problem that has eaten away the roots of Darwin’s tree, said Jonathan Wells, a biologist and author. Even in 2000 when he wrote Zombie Science: More Icons of Evolution, there were many scientific problems with the tree of life concept. “And now, 17 years later, the problems have grown worse,” Wells said in a video posted on the Discovery Institute’s Evolution News and Science blog.
It seems no reshaping of the tree can overcome its difficulties. Recently, the discovery of orphan genes, genes that do not show descent from a common ancestor because they have no similarity to genes in other species, has begun chopping away at the tree. The only way scientists can keep believing the illusion is to simply ignore the existence of orphan genes, Wells said: “The reason we get a tree, in the first place is only because we assume at the outset that it’s there.”
TRUTH BOMBS: Because atheists are just dragged out into the streets and shot and burned alive, crucified and beheaded… oh wait that’s Christians. Atheists are given money and high paying jobs at Universities…. my bad!
ARTICLE: For the first time, atheists and other nonreligious persons are explicitly named as a class protected by the law. President Barack Obama has signed into law the Frank Wolf International Religious […]
TRUTH BOMBS: This is only one of many myths that atheists and agnostics believe to be a true narrative.
ARTICLE: Thank heavens that Columbus was able to convince the world that the earth was round. Except, as Chuck Colson explains in this classic BreakPoint commentary, Columbus didn’t have to convince anyone.
For well over a century and a half, secular intellectuals have promulgated the myth that when it came to understanding the natural world, medieval and earlier Christians were superstitious simpletons. As we mark Columbus Day today, sit back and listen to Chuck Colson as he debunks that pernicious fairy tale. Here’s Chuck:
To paraphrase the opening of a popular ESPN show, these four things everyone knows are true: Before Columbus’s first voyage, people thought the world was flat. When Copernicus wrote that the Earth revolved around the Sun, his conclusions came out of nowhere. Three, the “scientific revolution” of the seventeenth century invented science as we know it. And four, false beliefs and impediments to science are Christianity’s fault.
There’s just one problem: All four statements are false.
As Rodney Stark writes in his new book, “For the Glory of God,” “every educated person” of Columbus’s time, especially Christian clergy, “knew the earth was round.” More than 800 years before Columbus’s voyage, Bede, the church historian, taught this, as did Hildegard of Bingen and Thomas Aquinas. The title of the most popular medieval text on astronomy was Sphere, not exactly what you would call a book that said the earth was flat.
As for Copernicus’s sudden flash of insight, Stark quotes the eminent historian L. Bernard Cohen, who called that idea “an invention of later historians.” Copernicus “was taught the essential fundamentals leading to his model by his Scholastic professors”—that is, Christian scholars.
That model was “developed gradually by a succession of … Scholastic scientists over the previous two centuries.” Building upon their work on orbital mechanics, Copernicus added the “implicit next step.”
Thus, the idea that science was invented in the seventeenth century, “when a weakened Christianity could no longer prevent it,” as it is said, is false. Long before the famed physicist Isaac Newton, clergy like John of Sacrobosco, the author of Sphere, were doing what can be only called science. The Scholastics—Christians—not the Enlightenment, invented modern science.
Three hundred years before Newton, a Scholastic cleric named Jean Buridan anticipated Newton’s First Law of Motion, that a body in motion will stay in motion unless otherwise impeded. It was Buridan, not an Enlightenment luminary, who first proposed that the Earth turns on its axis.
In Stark’s words, “Christian theology was necessary for the rise of science.” Science only happened in areas whose worldview was shaped by Christianity, that is, Europe. Many civilizations had alchemy; only Europe developed chemistry. Likewise, astrology was practiced everywhere, but only in Europe did it become astronomy.
That’s because Christianity depicted God as a “rational, responsive, dependable, and omnipotent being” who created a universe with a “rational, lawful, stable” structure. These beliefs uniquely led to “faith in the possibility of science.”
So why the Columbus myth? Because, as Stark writes, “the claim of an inevitable and bitter warfare between religion and science has, for more than three centuries, been the primary polemical device used in the atheist attack of faith.” Opponents of Christianity have used bogus accounts like the ones I’ve mentioned to not only discredit Christianity, but also position themselves as “liberators” of the human mind and spirit.
Well, it’s up to us to set the record straight, and Stark’s book is a great place to start. And I think it’s time to tell our neighbors that what everyone thinks they know about Christianity and science is just plain wrong.
TRUTH BOMBS: This is an example a failed culture brought about by a failed religion on both sides. On the European side, this is the failure of their religion: atheism and the Migrants failed religion of Islam. Two wrong do not make a right.
ARTICLE: Should a 14-year-old married girl who migrates to Europe be viewed as a child – or a spouse?
The issue has put European governments in a spin: forcing a policy U-turn in Denmark, new legislation in the Netherlands and an agonised debate in Germany.
Analysts say early marriage is often carried out in refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey by families trying to protect girls from poverty or sexual exploitation. Elsewhere, poor families might marry off their young daughters in exchange for dowries.
The question is one of rights and protections – but which? When authorities stop minors cohabiting with their older spouses, are they combating child abuse or breaking up (often already traumatised) families?
Depending on where you go in Europe, you’ll find a radically different range of responses to the issue.
Denmark’s response has swung first one way and then the other.
In February, Integration Minister Inger Stojberg vowed to act after a review found dozens of cases of girls living with older men in asylum seekers’ accommodation – which the minister called “totally unacceptable”.
Couples would require “exceptional reasons” to live together below the age of 18 (the legal age for marriage in Denmark) and no cohabitation would be allowed whatsoever if one party was below 15.
But separation reportedly prompted two migrants under 18 to attempt suicide.
The policy was reversed earlier this week – with children as young as 14 reunited with their husbands – after the issue was raised with the Danish Immigration Service (DIS) by lawmaker Josephine Fock.
“It is completely outrageous. We are talking about people who have fled to Denmark who are being split from each other. Some of them have children together and investigating individual [asylum] cases takes an unbelievably long time,” Ms Fock told Metroxpress news service.
That has prompted conservative politicians to call for Denmark’s withdrawal from such treaties.
In the Netherlands, policy has shifted in the other direction – with the government moving swiftly last year to close a legal loophole which allowed child brides to live with older husbands in asylum centres.
And politicians have grappled with the same dilemma elsewhere in Europe – though on the whole each country is dealing with just a handful of cases.
The issue takes on much broader significance in Germany, which has greeted some 1.2 million migrants since last year under Chancellor Angela Merkel’s “open-door” policy.
Here the authorities’ response has been inconsistent and, some claim, confused.
Data suggest that in Germany there are at least 1,000 marriages where one or both parties are under the legal marriage age of 18, of which more than half are in the southern state of Bavaria.
Legal marriage or state-sanctioned abuse?
The official confusion is reflected in one reported case: a 15-year-old Syrian girl married to her 21-year-old cousin. She was first separated from him in the city of Aschaffenburg, Bavaria, for reasons of child protection.
Her husband lost an appeal to a family court, but the decision was eventually set aside by a regional court, which judged that the marriage should be recognised as it was legal in the country of origin.
But the city appealed, and the pair are now awaiting a judgment from Germany’s federal court.
In response, Germany’s justice ministry has set up a working group to agree a consistent response.
Ironically, the Family Affairs Minister Manuela Schwesig cited the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to argue against under-age cohabitation, claiming that violated children’s rights to “play, education and health”.
And the issue only threatens to become more pressing, despite the efforts of global campaign groups to eliminate child marriage – which they claim in many cases is in fact forced marriage.
Unicef figures from the vast Syrian refugee camps in Jordan suggest the proportion of registered marriages where the bride was under 18 rose from 12% in 2011 (roughly the same as the figure in pre-war Syria) to 18% in 2012, and as high as 25% by 2013.
“There are a number of reasons why families are opting for child marriage for their daughters,” says charity Save the Children.
“As refugees, Syrian families are reliant on dwindling resources and are lacking economic opportunities. At the same time, they are all too aware of the need to protect their daughters from the threat of sexual violence.”